Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Am Legend-A Review

"I Am Legend"

I saw this a couple weeks ago, and it's been rolling around in my head, so I thought I'd put down some of my thoughts on the matter.

Lotsa spoilers below . . . don't read any further if you don't want to know how things turn out.

Overall, a good fun, movie. But, there are things that I thought were funny and I'll go into those.

First, a brief history of "I Am Legend"

It's based (loosely) on a book by a guy named Richard Matheson.

Here's what you need to know about Matheson: He's written some of the most famous TV horror/fantasy episodes ever: including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" featuring some early overacting by William Shatner, as well as Trilogy of Terror, staring Karen Black (still one of the best creepy TV shows ev-ah!)

Furthermore, the movie was made previously, as "The Last Man on Earth", and "The Omega Man" (get it, alpha and omega? last man?). The leads in those movies were Vincent Price and Charlton Heston, respectively. Note: LMOE is probably the closest to the book, but it's been a long time since I've seen it, so that judgment may be suspect. Same with Omega man.

Anyway, basic plot: A plague sweeps the earth, infecting everyone but our hero.

Of course, Will Smith gives his usually great performance, but I think there are structural issues that kind of bugged me.

After some bits of intro where we see they've cured cancer, only to have the virus mutate and turn into something a lot worse than that, we're treated to Will trying to hunt deer while driving a Ford Mustang . . . talk about product placement.

Okay, if the deer are so plentiful . . . use a scope and wait for them on top of a building. Sheesh.
Not that it wasn't cool to chase them in a car, but really people . . . . Deer are fast. They have big ears which they use to hear people/carnivores coming . . . you wouldn't get within a city block. But if you set out some corn . . . . and he has a garden and sat on a rooftop . . .

Second, the plague/virus turned most of the people in the world into zombies. The original had everyone turn into vampires. Of course, our modern zombies are not content to use numbers to win, they are also fast. Now, I suppose there are some differences between zombies and vampires, but really, one only wants the juice, the other likes the meat off your bones. Whatever. Now these zombies, can't stand sunlight. But they want to chew you up. Okay, so they're Zompires . . .

Okay, so here's where it gets funny.

The zompires, sleep during the day . . . I guess. They do hide, but what about sleep? Now, unless they are somehow different than every other carnivore in the world, they gotta sleep sometime. But the first time we see them, they're all awake eating a deer that Will Smith accidentally chased into a building. Man, if I were him, I'd figure out a way to carry an ultraviolet flashlight . . . . he is a scientist after all.

Secondly, sometimes, I get confused by the ecology of these things. Why don't they turn on each other? What happens when they run out of food? Strictly speaking, carnivores are usually very infrequent compared to say, whatever their food is, be it gazelles or deer. How do one zillion of these things survive? I'm pretty sure it's not on chef boyardee ravioli . . .

Also, at one point, WS needs to capture a zompire . . so he rigs up something using a tarp and a car as a counter weight, so that when the zombpire gets on the tarp, down goes the car, and viola, he captures a zombpire. However, while doing so, the leader zompire sees him through and open doorway.

Later, the zombpires do something extremely clever: They take a mannequin that Will talks to in a video store, put it at the end of a street, and rig up the SAME TRAP WILL USED early. Think about it: At first, we're shown the zombpires as some sort of animalistic pack animals . . . then they set up a very sophisticated trap. I mean, these things tear a deer apart with their hands, but moments after that, they figure out: how to use something WS will recognize, that they could have only known if they either made the connection between the mannequin and WS at night when WS was in bed, or somehow they saw him during the day . . . . when they're supposed to be sleeping. Then! They hook up a trap using a rope tied to a car as a counter weight to pick WS up off the ground. Meaning they would have had to measure the rope, tie it off somewhat right, several of them would have had to move the car into place, knowing what the outcome would be.

I mean, if they could do that, why couldn't they drive a car? AND the zompire who saw WS's original trap would have had to figured all that out and then communicated it to the others.

I mean, the problem is that you've got two movie ideas: crazy zompires or smart zompires. Now I don't see a problem with both of them, but the smart zombpires would be more like the previous two movies and the crazy ones more like all the other zombie movies.

But of course, the final piece is the zombies attacking en mass. But of course, are they clever? No. The clever psychological and physical trap set earlier was just a ruse. They're brutes again.

I think that had they followed the clever part out to a logical conclusion, it would have been a more interesting movie and you might have had fewer "oh my god, that's CGI" moments.

Now, this isn't to say the movie was bad, just not great. It was a lot of fun so long as you don't get caught up in some of the logical problems.

But then that's most movies . . .


Anonymous said...

I saw a lot of words in that post but my brain just went into overload as soon as I saw William Shatner and early overacting....

I guess I can take comfort in the fact that he grew out of it....... doH!!

Anonymous said...

Structure issues aside, (I agree with all that you pointed out by the way) the thing that bothered me the most was that he chose to blow up the "cured" zompire. As starved as the attacking zompires seemed to have been I think it's safe to assume they would have consumed not only him but the cured zompire as well. It seems to me that this would have started an epidemic of curing all of the zompires.

Which leads me to another point... How is it that the Vermont colony was evidently perfectly safe behind a 20 foot wall when the NY zompires were easily scrambling up the side of a multi-story building?